Trip to the Mountains

Palm Springs has an aerial tram which climbs  Mt. San Jacinto the snow capped mountain to our left.  It climbs almost 5,400 ft. and the floor rotates while you go up for a 360 degree view.  We thought very hard about going up and seeing the snow covered mountain and the view, but it is a little pricy for us.  After parking fees and tram fees it would be over $60.00.  So we decided to drive up Mt San Gorgonio in San Bernardino National Forest the highest peak in Southern California at 11,500 feet.  We see Mt San Gorgonio to our right.  The valley between Jacinto and Gorgonio is filled with windmills and is directly in front of us.

There was not a road to the summit or if there was it was closed.  The highest we got was at Onyx Summit at 8,443 feet.  Which has a nice view of Mt. San Gorgonio and the surrounding area.


We took Ca Hwy 38 winding around the mountains.  There was very little development, some camps and recreational areas, but no real towns.  The area was gorgeous and the snow really added to the beauty.  You may remember me saying that I could care less whether I ever saw snow again or not, so you may find it weird that we went up.  The weather was great even with the snow it was 50 degrees and sunny.  Really made for a nice contrast.


Further down and around the northern side is Big Bear and Big Bear Lake.  We had our picnic there and enjoyed the lake and Nellie getting a run in the snow.  There were numerous ski resorts in the area.

In Big Bear we hit Ca Hwy 18 and traveled back west along a scenic drive called the “rim of the world highway.”  It runs the length of the San Bernardino Mountains right across the top.  When we started out we were surrounded by these beautiful snowy mountains.


And then we turned a corner and the snow disappeared.  The mountains were very lush and green, you can see the city of San Bernardino in the distance.


The drive was amazing and quite a nice change from the desert of Joshua Tree.  It was really nice to see trees again!!!

Peace and love.


Around Town

We have spent most of our time enjoying our natural surroundings, but have ventured into town on a couple of occasions.  The area has several towns that run together into one.  Only signs tell you when you go from one to the other.  There is Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Thousand Palms and Coachella just to name a few.  Below is our home for this month address is Desert Hot Springs, signs say Sky Valley??.


Palm Springs has stars on the sidewalk similar to Hollywood (I hear have not yet seen theirs).  Most are people we have never heard of but there are some familiar names.


Sonny Bono statue

They also have a nice art museum which is free on the second Sunday of each month.  We enjoyed the free visit.  Their feature exhibit was of cowboy and Indian art; but the permanent exhibits included baskets, modern art, glass, sculpture garden and much more.



This is made up of slices of white bread…


My favorite, oriental type rug have is melting…

Cathedral City has a really nice fountain that made us think of Teresa Sandeford.  It is  mosaicked aquatic animals.  The first day we went by it was a nice sunny day but the fountain was not running??  When we saw the fountain running it was a cloudy overcast day so the colors did not come out as well.  We are going to start a petition for the Town of Carolina Beach to commission a similar fountain utilizing Teresa’s mosaics, she has already done most of the businesses so why not.  Check out her work.


There are some interesting rules also.  Guess they saw the need??


Peace and love from Southern California desert, while lying on the sidewalk!!!

Joshua Tree Geology Tour


We have been busy this last week. Great weather with high temps in the upper 70 and lower 80s and crystal clear skies. Yesterday that all changed with a southern California winter storm. The main part of the storm is on the western side of the mountains, the desert doesn’t get much rain but the wind has picked back up and the mountains are hidden by clouds. There was rain overnight and flash flood warnings, but just wet and cloudy today so far. Hopefully the rains will bring wildflowers in the next couple of weeks before we leave?? Yesterday and today enjoying staying in, restocking, washing and making some stew since the temps this weekend are to be below average with highs in the 60s. Also catching up on our blog!!

Of course, we went back to Joshua Tree. We took the self-guided geology tour, an 18 mile off road tour of various geological formations.   When you realize that many of the rocks and formations have been created over 1.7 BILLION years, it really makes our life span seem very insignificant. Being from the coast, we understand erosion as it relates to the beach, but to realize that the mounds of rock all around Joshua Tree were once mountains that have since eroded is fascinating.

Some of the mountains are still intact. This is because the rocks in these mountains are harder than others and erode much slower. All mountains are still eroding, it is just a matter of how fast the erosion occurs. The intact mountains are formed from 1.7 billion year old Pinto Gneiss which is a metamorphic rock. That means that this rock was formed from pressure, heat and chemical activity and is much harder and erosion resistant.


The mounds of uncovered rocks are 85 million year old White Tank Monzogranite. This rock was formed when molten magma intruded the gneiss. It cooled much slower being 15 to 20 miles below the surface and is therefore less dense than the gneiss and erodes much faster. You can really see that the rock is softer it looks and feels much like concrete, rough and grainy. While the gneiss is smooth. The erosion of monzogranite and sediments around it that have created the “piles” of rocks and interesting formations. So, each “pile” used to be a mountain and after erosion of that mountain these piles are what is left. Just imagine what it looked like millions of years ago!!


Close up of monzogranite

The white tank monzogranite cracked while cooling from molten magma and created joints. Over time some of these joints refilled with more molten magma and created dikes which are still another type of rock either aplite (light colored) or pegmatite (darker). This is what created the veins in some of the large boulders. It erodes slower than the monzogranite and sometimes protrudes out of the large boulders. Where these joints did not refill they eroded and formed the boulder formations. Some look like children’s blocks stacked on each other while others have rounded off and look like marbles. This is due to various stages of erosion.


Notice the dikes across the boulders.



You can also see strange pits and hollows on the rock surface where irregularities in the rock trapped water. This moisture promotes chemical breakdown of the rock to clay which holds more moisture. As they erode they produce shade which in turn promotes more moisture and before you know it (millions of years) you have a large hollow in the rock. Some as large as a cave, they are much cooler and a nice respite from the sun and heat of a hot day.  These hollows create some of the distinctive images in the park.

Famous Skull Rock
Face Rock on far right end of formation
Our picnic spot on the geology tour

Beyond these two kinds of mountains and rocks on the geology trail, there is a third much younger mountain. This mountain is believed to be as young as 2 or 3 million years old and is made of black basalt. This is believed to be formed from molten magma intruding into the monzogranite but not quite reaching the surface. The Basalt is more resistant to weathering than the monzogranite. The former layer of monzogranite that covered the basalt has since eroded and become part of the valley surrounding these young mountains.





This is an elementary geology report which could be better explained by some of my former co-workers (geologist) at Clark Environmental. But is what I understood from our brief class via the self-guided tour. Well worth the time.  Although I did not mention it earlier, of course earths movement especially here on the San Andros fault line contributed (a lot) to the mountains formation and cracking of rocks over time.

Below you can see the difference kinds of rock side by side.


and the difference in erosion rates on the edge of this mountain.


Peace and love.

Hike to the Oasis

We visited the Coachella Valley Preserve – Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve.  They have several long hikes around the Coachella Valley which is mostly desert.  The day we went was very hot so hiking thru the desert was not so attractive maybe later.  But the host mentioned a one mile hike to an oasis which sounded perfect.

The visitor center was located in an Oasis also so it was basically a hike from one oasis to another.  Oases are not really that common and it is unusual to find two that close together.  In this valley they are filled with Desert Fan Palms which are actually the only palm native to the area.  They are recognizable by their long skirts.  Many palms loose their fronds between seasons when new ones are grown.  But these keep their old fronds which hang down and produce a skirt.

You will notice that some palms have breaks in their skirts from top to bottom.  We are not sure why this occurs and I was unable to find on the web.  Next time we will have to ask the preserve host.  I assume that it is due to weather, either a extra wet or dry season or could be a dramatic wind event??  Really don’t know??

The hike was quite hot and dry, but as soon as you enter the oasis it was as though the a/c had been turned on.  There was even a breeze that was nonexistent in the desert??  The water is not deep, but is definitely present and would have been a very welcome sight to the old settlers.  The preserve visitor center is actually an old house where Paul Wilhelm settled in the 1930s.  The history is really quite interesting, but this story is about the Oasis.

There was definitely a distinction between the desert and the oasis.


The Desert Fan/California Palms are really tall.


The patterns looking up the skirt of the palm is nice.


Oasis has more water than imagined.


The fronds make amazing patterns.


The palms were used by native Indians for a variety of things.  They even used the stringy frond leaves for weaving.


The skirts although pretty were obviously in the way of some of the paths thru the oasis.


Notice the breaks in the skirts…


Peace and love from the Oasis.


Slab City and East Jesus


Based on the recommendation of a fellow camper at Oasis Palms RV Resort, we went to visit Slab City, CA.  This is an old WWII Marine Barracks (Camp Dunlop) that was abandoned in the late 1950s and was taken over by Snowbirds (squatters) in the mid 1960.  They live completely off the grid – no electricity, no running water, no trash pickup, no law enforcement, etc.  At the entrance of Slab City is Salvation Mountain, which is itself a site to see.



But as you travel thru the “City” you see a wide variety of living conditions and the creativity of free range camping.  Everything from the ultra creative to trash heaps.  Looks like some don’t care and some do.  Some stay forever and some just for the season…  They have a bar that we understand has live music (but we did not attend), a library and a shoe tree.


But the most amazing thing was “East Jesus” which  is an experimental, sustainable and habitable art installation in Slab City.   In early 2007, Charlie Russell left his job in the technology industry, packed all his belongings into a shipping container and sent it to a trash-strewn field where he began to surround his two art cars with sculptures that would become the foundation works of East Jesus. The Chasterus Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit formed after his death in 2011, has since guided the curation and expansion of East Jesus.

Made from discarded material that has been reused, recycled or repurposed, East Jesus encourages visitors to imagine a world without waste, in which every action is opportunity for self-expression.  (sorry some of this was pasted from Wikipedia but they said it best).  Below is a slide show of what we saw take as much or as little time as you like exploring the images, the detail is really quite amazing.  While talking to “The tour guide” we mentioned how fun it must be, and he commented that it was fun, but if not they just burnt it and that was fun.   Although we are not staying there this year who knows what the future will hold.  Peace and love.

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Joshua Tree first visit


We visited Joshua Tree National Park last Friday and will be going back.  Since then we moved across the Valley to Desert Hot Springs and are staying for a month at Sam’s Family Spa and RV Park.  They have 4 hot tubs fed directly from their wells to the hot spring.  The water is supposedly straight from the spring with no additives.  They range in temperature from warm to down right hot!

This location is closer to civilization, Joshua Tree NP and several national forests.  Oasis Palm RV Resort was nice, we picked and enjoyed oranges, grapefruits and lemons right from trees in the park and enjoyed nightly bonfire with the group.  But it was ~45+ minutes from anything.  Driving is a necessity as the nature we want to see is not in any RV park, but we don’t want to be that far out.

Anyway back to the point, Joshua Tree (JTree for short) was more than I expected.  We entered on the south side into the Sonora/Colorado Desert which we have been in for a couple of weeks so nothing really new.  But as we traveled across northwesterly the landscape really changed.

While in the Colorado Desert there was a Cholla Cactus garden.  We have seen these since Tucson, but not in such numbers.  Amazing that birds actually nest in these thorny monsters.


As we moved across the rocks were amazing.  From the size of a pea to bigger than most houses.  The land would be as flat as could be and there were piles of very large rocks for no good reason.  Just amazing how this area was created and has changed in over 25,000,000 years.  Many look like giant kids have been playing with their blocks…   makes you truly understand how a lot of mythology came to be.

Anyway enjoy the pictures and commentary.  There will be more to come as we cant wait to go back, and we will.  We purchased our Annual Pass to the National Parks here at JTree and plan to use it a lot over this year.


Randy inside zoom in to see…
Looks like a sphinx, do you see it?
Don’t park under that one!!
Nice campsite but not sure the bus would fit??

Rock climbing…

Skull Rock



Oh yeah there were Joshua Trees as well.  dscf1347p1060804

And the view from over 5,100 feet of the Coachella Valley.  There will be more to come you can be sure of that.  Peace and Love!!!


Pacific Ocean…

We are staying south of Joshua Tree National Park right off the Salton Sea at Oasis Palm RV Park.  Spent yesterday in Joshua Tree and will be going back, but today we actually made it to the Pacific Ocean.  To realize that less than 40 days ago we were on the Atlantic Coast and now here.  Wow Just Wow.  Let the good times roll…

Since we are staying a little inland it was a trip over to the ocean.  We took Ca Hwy 78 across from the Salton Sea to Oceanside, CA between San Diego and Los Angeles.  That was a curvy road and the mountains resembled NC mountains for the first time since TX.  There were actually trees and some roads where the trees were so thick they blocked the view.

It was the first time we realized that since Ft Stockton, TX we have lived with mountains on the horizons or closer depending on the day.   Mountains, but not like we are used to.  A whole lot of flat land and a whole lot of mountains of all sizes and shapes.  Wow Just Wow.

The trip across CA today consisted leaving from 150 ft below sea level here at the Salton Sea and going across miles and miles of desert to reach some beautiful lush mountains.  Especially in Julian at over 4,000 feet.  Quite a quaint little town.


Actually neither of these looks very lush, but trust me it was the closest to NC mountains (mountains we are use to) that we have seen in weeks.  Guess I just didn’t take those.

Anyway we made it to Oceanside, and the Pacific Ocean.  It was the first time we felt we were in what we think of as California.  So far we it has all been a lot of desert, lots of nature in Joshua Tree and small (if any) canyon towns.  Blythe, CA to here was 250 miles of NOTHING.  But beautiful in its own way.

Oceanside had the palm trees taller than you would think possible, citrus trees galore, busy highways, and lots of congested areas.  Not sure if that is really where we want to be, but I (we) had to get to the Ocean, the Pacific Ocean to be exact so we have been from shore to shore.    The rest is cake from here right?


So glad to know there is more to California than the beach.  Will be back soon with some Joshua Tree National Park information.  Peace and love.